When the Mobiloil Corp. asked DDB to handle its account I was very excited, naturally, to handle the account. The account was at the Ted Bates Co. where their consumer advertising was being done. The account was not taken away from Ted Bates. For the first time the company decided to do institutional advertising. This had nothing to do with selling the product itself .... but do a campaign that would "endear them in the hearts of the American people forever". We were then called into the first meeting.
We went back to the agency and began to work. We didn't know what to do. We threw out twenty, thirty, fifty ideas until we decided what was right. You have to realize that in the U.S. at that time there was mumbling and rumbling about the high death and accident rate on the highways. We felt that the topic was in the air. Here was a chance to sell with the times. There was nothing that could be pinned down but we felt that it was happening. Ralph Nader's book entitled "Unsafe At Any Speed" had received some publicity but was not widely known at the time. Government investigations had not yet taken place. President Johnson had not yet signed the Highway Safety program. We prepared the campaign very quickly because we felt that if we were thinking about it possibly other advertisers were thinking about it too. And so, we came up with a campaign with the slogan "We Want You To Live". The first ad which I will show you and which ran first in the campaign explains the direction we took. (Johnson's speech on the same day)
I want to say that the amount of letters received from the public on this campaign are phenomenal. Mobil had to set up 8 secretaries to handle all the mail coming in. There were 10,000 letters the first week alone, congratulating Mobil for their interest in the public interest. Many of the letters included torn-up credit cards from competing oil companies with requests for Mobil credit cards to be sent to them. Newspapers called us and asked if they could run the ads for free. Editorials have quoted the ads. Life Magazine did a feature article on the Mobil television commercials which you will see later. We knew we had hit on something important. Again we learned -- give the reader something he's interested in...and he'll be interested in you.
It's fantastic! A campaign that was never designed to sell gasoline and oil is doing that kind of job. Ted Bates has since lost the gasoline and oil account. This is now with DDB. We are now in the process of preparing a gasoline and oil campaign too.
Nobody is crazy enough to drive off a 10-story buildind.
Or are they?
The fact is, if you hit something when your car is doing 60 miles an hour, it's exactly the same as driving off a 10-story building. And i will get you to exactly the same place:the morgue.
We at Mobil don't expect you to drive 10 or 15miles an hour all the time.
The sad truth is, it wouldn't help if you did. But driving makes bad accidents. Period.
So if you remember anything, remember this: If you don't use your head at any speed, you're liable to lose it at any speed.
We have vested interest in telling you this: Our business is sellihg gasollin and oil. We think we make the best productsin the world,and we want to do everything we can to make sure that you'll be around to enjoy them.
Mobil We want you to live.